This evening, I attended an amazing live performance of poetry featuring the work of the English poet, Phillip Larkin, thanks to Professor Vinter being so generous as to procure a few extra tickets for those of us who wanted to attend. Larkin was a brilliant poet who wrote of England, of English life, and of emotions. The show was part of a series of poetry readings in honor of Josephine Hart, an advocate for poetry in Britain. It was a stirring, intimate performance by the four readers on stage. I loved just listening to the poems come to life in the voices of these talented actors. My favorite poem of the evening was the final one for the evening, The Arundel Tomb. I have pasted the poem below and bolded my favorite lines at the end. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and it was so wonderful to lose myself in the poetry.
The Arundel Tomb
Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd—
The little dogs under their feet.
Such plainness of the pre-baroque
Hardly involves the eye, until
It meets his left-hand gauntlet, still
Clasped empty in the other; and
One sees, with a sharp tender shock,
His hand withdrawn, holding her hand.
They would not think to lie so long.
Such faithfulness in effigy
Was just a detail friends would see:
A sculptor’s sweet commissioned grace
Thrown off in helping to prolong
The Latin names around the base.
They would not guess how early in
Their supine stationary voyage
The air would change to soundless damage,
Turn the old tenantry away;
How soon succeeding eyes begin
To look, not read. Rigidly they
Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths
Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light
Each summer thronged the glass. A bright
Litter of birdcalls strewed the same
Bone-riddled ground. And up the paths
The endless altered people came,
Washing at their identity.
Now, helpless in the hollow of
An unarmorial age, a trough
Of smoke in slow suspended skeins
Above their scrap of history,
Only an attitude remains:
Time has transfigured them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.
2 thoughts on “Live Poetry at The Arts Theatre”
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree… I fell in love with English literature and poetry during my time at Grinnell (thanks in large part to the influence of the awe-inspiring Elizabeth Dobbs!).
Of all your wonderful G-I-L experiences to-date, this one stands out and makes my heart swell with gratitude that Grinnell has afforded you (too!) the opportunity to fall in love with poetry.
Eric, please pass on my personal thanks to Professor Vinter for this amazing opportunity!
Attached below are some images to illustrate what Larkin saw that caused him to write this poem. I thought those would help the readers of your blog.
Eric – please edit as requested… Only you can edit my comment, I cannot…
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